Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Count's Return (WoE 37)

Write at the Merge gave us two photos of The Breakers estate in Newport, Rhode Island.

I decided to go the lap of luxury route, instead of focusing on the Breakers.

And I found it inspiring to the tune of 540 words. And I don't want to edit, so this week I'm cheating.


No, not really.

I'm returning to Anastasia and her Count Arik. First found here and next here, I'm showing you just how dark her world is.

Not the Breakers, but a castle in Ireland

I offer the following in response: Deception Challenge

Edwin smirked. “You believe he’s still interested? You did spurn him.”

Her brother’s proximity made her skin crawl. She hid her reaction by fussing with a floral arrangement. “I did not rebuke him in as much as I presented him a challenge.”

“Still, men do not like to be made the fool. He’s likely to…take…what he wants when next you meet.” His smirk became a badge of pure evil. “If next you meet.”

The fine hairs at the base of her skull rose. Personal experience laced her brother’s words. How many maids had he subdued? She willed her hand free of tremor. Any sign of weakness or fear would cause the tiger lurking in Edwin to pounce, and there were appearances to keep. “Edwin, you mistake my refusal for a child’s misstep. I am well aware of the stakes in this game. Give me a little credit. I am, after all, our father’s daughter.”

He stepped closer, his thigh brushing against her gown. His hot breath fell damp upon her cheek. “Even so, sweet sister, the rules of the game changes with the players.”

She met the acid in his stare. “You will keep your distance, honorable brother, and let this play without your interference. The end result will benefit us all.”

He laughed and kissed her neck. It was a malevolent gesture, not a tender one. As she recoiled, she knocked the vase of flowers off its pedestal. Porcelain shards of ancient tradition shattered across the state floor. Edwin gripped her shoulders and struck her chin, rendering her like the vase, to the mercy of gravity. “Clumsy fool. That will cost you dear I’m afraid.”

“I see the gossipmongers speak the truth of you, Little Lord Dumarche.” The Count of Monteschell, her Arik, stood in the grand doorway of the foyer flanked by the servant that gave him admittance to their estate.

 The wild hunger fled Edwin’s eyes. He straightened before turning to face his better. “That I run a tight ship, Arik?”

“I’ll enforce my rank here, if you don’t mind,” Arik was stone.

Anastasia rose in the thickening tension. Edwin rubbed his knuckles. “As you command, Your Grace,” he managed a shallow bow.

“You are dismissed, sir, for my business is with the Lady Dumarche.”

“Your Grace,” Edwin bowed again. Anastasia caught his cold stare as he swaggered up the stairs, an animal to lick his wounded pride in solitude.

“Thank you for your timely intervention, your Grace,” Anastasia touched her tender chin. “But I am more than capable of handling my brother.”

“Clearly.” Arik cocked his head. “I will keep this brief then. I sent you a ring. Why did you return it?”

She fluttered her lashes, “The game, your Grace. Appearances must be maintained.”

“The game?” He heaved a sigh. “I thought you different. Am I wrong?”

“No. I dislike deception.” She looked to the staircase, “But our world is a dangerous one, and I cannot afford to ignore the game.”

He held out the cabochon ring. “Then take this ring. Let there be no games between us.”

The green gem winked in the dim light. Anastasia forgot her pain.

Reintroducing: The Trouble With Henry

The Trouble With Henry
Is Now Available
Through More Channels!

That's right! 

The Trouble With Henry is now available for more platforms:

And I haven't forgotten about the "Dead Tree" format. Stay tuned for an actual physical book. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

And The Winner Is...

Thank you so much for everyone who participated in helping me choose the cover for The Trouble With Henry. I took each and every comment, vote, criticism, and voice under careful advisement.

The majority of you voted option 2, followed very closely by option 7.

So how did I narrow it down? It was a very hard decision at first, until I happened upon the following:


So I didn't want to go there, since it was in the same genre. And that left option 2.

Except, looking at the black and white thumbnail of option 2 on my mom's Sony Reader, nothing shows. Not the title, not my name. It was just a blob of grey. I hope you all agree that situation isn't good.

So I can't use option 7, and I can't use option 2.

When you take those options away, option 1 comes closest to option 2, and to the overall theme of the story. Not to mention, the black, red, and white pop onto screens. I know the biggest gripe I heard about the artwork in option one looked like bad CGI (computer generated imagery), in a word: cartoony. While I agree that a "real" photo would have been ideal here, there's something I should probably admit to you: The "real" feet of option 2 gave me the creeps. Like I was looking at a Stephen King novel or something. 

And so I thought I'd have to pass.

What I didn't like about option 1, was that my subtitle was up above my main title. Not that it mattered much visually, I think, as the white text up top balanced out the rest of the graphics. The problem is a personal one; when I started this endeavor, I did't envision my subtitle atop my title. So, while my mom and dad are guilt-tripping me into trusting my artist and not trying to fix something that ain't broke, it still bothered me. 

Fortunately, James at humblenations@gmail.com is the friendliest sort of chap one could ever hope to meet. (He was gunning for the black and yellow title with the girl in leather pants, incidentally) and he agreed to rework the graphics once more. I asked him to add a tagline at the top, just to see if it worked.

I don't think it did. The cleanliness disappeared and it looked cluttered. But I still didn't like my subtitle on top. So I'm going with subtitle underneath, no tagline on top, and I'm a very happy camper.

Again, thanks to all who helped me out. I'll reintroduce The Trouble With Henry later, after I update Amazon and upload it to other venues.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Billy's Boiling (WoE week 32)

It's a Down Under theme this week at Write at the Merge. A picture of two kangaroos boxing and a song by Midnight Oil: Beds Are Burning.

I went with Down Under, more than with either the song or the kangaroos. And as I spent the last week tending farm animals and a horse with colic, my thoughts went to a Man From Snowy River sort of time. So Australia, here we come with new characters and a new story-line.

Abandoned Stable Light In Ramona California, courtesy SKD

I offer the following in response: The Billy's Boiling

Poppy left her father’s sickbed hurt, embarrassed that she allowed him get under her skin like the flystrike that took his sheep. “Miserable fool,” she muttered, as much a jab at herself as it was towards her father.

“Miss Buchanan,” Clyde sidestepped her in the hallway as she pushed towards the backdoor, “McPherson will want an answer soon.”

Poppy crossed the porch, the January sun coaxing sweat to her brow. She despised Jackbite Station and its purpose, knowing her hatred stemmed from the bitter old man wasting away in his bed. Under any other circumstances, she wouldn’t care they were in dire straits. But McPherson wasn’t going to be her savior, not by a long shot. “I might be a Sheila but I’m not about to let that sanctimonious FIGJAM bail us up over this patch of dirt.”

Clyde smirked. “I see Londontown didn’t ruin you. You still got Top End in your blood.”

She let the comment go. She never thought to return to the Territories. It was winter in London; snow in Yorkshire was a certainty. Poppy raised her hand to shield her eyes from the sun. The day lasts too long here, she thought. She’d been gone long enough for her blood to find a winterless January strange. “What’s the report today, Mr. Bingley?”

Clyde rubbed his chin. “Your father ever tell a tale about a soulless brumby stirring up the herd?”

She frowned. “No.”

He pointed to the west, out beyond the station. “Well, Ben’s hunting jumbuck-duffers when a boomer suckers his bitzer within cooee of the billabong. He’s nursing his dog when he catches sight of a whole herd of them, and that midnight brumby smug in the middle, leading the pack.”

Poppy sighed. She had also been gone long enough to lose her ability to understand Clyde Bingley.

He raised an eyebrow at her. “Wild horses, Miss Buchanan. Enough that if maybe we round them up, we’ll have a decent payday.”

“Enough to cover the sheep loss?”

“And the lien against the station.”

That, she understood. And they wouldn’t need McPherson’s buyout. “Do we stand a chance of catching up and tracking the herd?”

Clyde nodded.

Riders approached from the station entrance. Poppy recognized McPherson from his horse more than his looks. His beard had turned snow-white in her absence. She turned to Clyde. “Tell Mr. Possum to muster what he needs. Go get those ponies.”

“Yes ma’am.” Clyde jogged towards the tack-rooms.

McPherson dismounted, his goons with him. He was close enough for her to smell the brekker stuck in his teeth. “Miss Buchanan, I did not expect to find you here.”

“And why not? This is my home.” She folded her arms.

“Not for much longer, my apologies. Your father and I have an understanding, as it were.”

“That so? Well, you don’t have one with me, bushranger. Get. Off. My. Land.”

Clyde returned with a shotgun. “You heard the Sheila. Rack off, mate.”

Monday, August 5, 2013

Decisions, Decisions - The Trouble With Henry

Okay Faithful Readers!

I have a decision to make and I'll welcome your help. Which of the following shall I choose for the National Best Seller The Trouble With Henry?

What do y'all think?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Left To Wither Away (WoE week 31)

Write at the Merge gave us two items that taste great and go great together. Ice Cream and Cake.

And for some reason I wanted a murder mystery, not a celebration. I seriously think I need a shrink. There is no way that analogy is normal. I should be writing about pixies. They like cake. But I think I really just wanted to kill someone off. Fictitiously of course. Possibly because my husband and I are fighting Worker's Comp again. And a teenager called me a dirty name for no reason. And I ran out of chocolate. Angst and Anger in abundance around the Dunning household. Grr. Grumble. Wallowing in self-pity. Crying over spilled ice cream...

So, I'm introducing you to new characters this week, characters I've been kicking around in the back of my mind for a few years. Maybe something will come of it. Would be nice to see another Native American mystery series on the bookshelves...Although, Tony Hillerman set the bar pretty high and I don't think I'm quite there yet..

I offer the following in response: Left to Wither Away

Left To Wither Away, Heritage Park, Cerritos CA, courtesy SKD

The smell was the worst of it.

The heat drove Hitchita indoors, not that there were many people claiming residency in the small town. Nearby Checotah scratched out more population in the last census, likely because of Carrie Underwood winning American Idol. It was 104° in the shade, but with the humidity, it may as well have been the surface of Mars: hot, desolate, unable to support life of any kind. 

Except for cottonmouths and chiggers.

Patrick Shotpouch looked out for both as he stepped through the dying grass of the cemetery, stringing crime scene tape. It wasn’t the first dead body he was called out to that week: the last two were found on a catfish troller in the middle of Lake Eufaula, victims of stupidity. Too much beer and not enough water made for a deadly cocktail during an Oklahoma August.

This corpse was Patrick’s first of the summer with three gunshot wounds, his first ever in Hitchita, and the only one he wasn’t expecting to find in a cemetery. The population didn’t support a crime rate that didn’t involve teenagers shooting out streetlamps.

“Shotpouch, why you even here? This is Creek territory.” Sweat blackened the McIntosh County bronze of Sheriff Bragg’s uniform and ran from his forehead in rivers.

Patrick wanted nothing more than to ignore the man, but he lost his fight to misery of the heat. “Yeah, I’m aware I’m a Tsalagi in Muskogee.” He wrapped the tape around a tree, ending his perimeter. “And you’re a yonega. Now that we’ve established our ethnicities, can we get back to the vic?”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

Patrick sighed. “Prisoner interrogation at Eufaula. The vic?”

The sheriff shrugged and indicated Patrick should follow. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful a Cherokee Marshal was on scene first. That way, the vic’s family is less likely to cry racism, when the truth of the matter is, we’re just spread thin. Hell, Hitchita ain’t even on the map. In a few years it’ll be a ghost town.”

“Maybe,” Patrick’s nose recoiled from the stench as they approached the ripe corpse. “I got kin up the road. They’ll never leave.”

Face down, the male body stretched across two Brinks family graves. Blood spatter caked the stone marker. “Coroner’s on his way.  He’s coming in from Rentiesville, so he may be a while.”

“That looks recent,” Patrick pointed to a trail of small pink puddles near the man’s sneakers.

“What do you make of it?”

“Strawberry ice cream, I reckon.” Patrick tracked the droplets leading away from the body. A few yards off, a cone lay on the ground in a bigger pool of pink and ants. He stooped, inspecting disturbed earth and a partial shoe impression. “Briggs, I think we got a witness.”

“Ice cream that fresh and a body that’s far from it and you think there's a witness?”

“Not to the murder maybe, but the body dump.” He rose, wiping his brow. “And the witness is missing.”